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Multiple Arrests...

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by Impressions, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. Impressions

    Impressions Banned
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    Edit: (If you have PM's please direct them to the private account DoctorBobSmith. Impressions is a public account. I'm going to hold Impressions hostage for a little while, until the confusion subsides.)

    Got in to medical school this year, and I'm already looking ahead... I'm an alcoholic who is prone to bad relapses and am trying to get as much help as I can before school starts. I have been arrested three times on Minor in Possession of Alcohol charges, two Public Intoxication charges, and a Drunken Disorderly in multiple states, cities, etc... 1 MIP, 1 PI, and the drunken disorderly are on my record. They all range from one-seven years old. Assuming I get through med school (might be an if, if I'm not sober), will these charges keep me from getting licensed? They are all low-level misdemeanors, but they probably show a pattern? Will they give a license to a "recovered" alcoholic?
     
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  3. razorback58

    razorback58 Resident

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    I have looked at many licensing requirments in the past year. I cannot think of one that has not addressed this issue of both drugs and ETOH. A history of abuse is one they frown on. Many of the residencies I applied to indicated you must have no history of alcohol abuse. This was a residency rule not a state rule. The same goes for drugs.

    DWI's are very serious when it comes to licensing and residency applications. Any offense that involves drug or alcohol. Time is your friend here. The older the offense the better you will look. You cannot lie for several reasons. Denial of license if they find out and on the FBI report many misdeamnor offenses show up.

    If you can prove you are sober, went through a treatment program and continue with NO offenses, you might get a reprieve in some states. You will have to register with the impaired professional organization to document your progress and lack of continued problem

    Most states will help those that are trying to help themselves. At this point they will view you as a habitual offender and probably deny you a training license and most certainly a permanet license.

    Go through a program, document AA meetings etc... remain sober and out of trouble and you probably have a good chance.
     
  4. Red Beard

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    I hope it all works out for you--good that you recognize your problem. :thumbup:

    A lot of people in medical school blow off steam after exams by drinking. Something to keep in mind if you expect being around drinking and people who speak lovingly of drinking will be a problem for you.

    Good luck!
     
  5. mlw03

    mlw03 Senior Member
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    it'd be silly for your medical school to accept you if they didn't think that you could get into a residency and eventually practice medicine. training med students is a money and effort intensive endeavor. i agree with those who said time is your friend. i think there is some hypocrisy though - as much as the DSM IV tells us alcohol depedence is a disease, there are many who believe it's simply a will power issue. but by the time you make it to residency applications you'll have 4 years of sobriety if you stop now, which shows a serious committment and one i think most residency directors would respect. i would also add you probably only get 1 strike (while most of us would at least get 2) - from both your med school and residency programs. don't count on having time to go to a lot of AA meetings in med school and recognize a lot of drinking goes on in med schools.

    think about all you did to get where you are and seriously consider abandoning alcohol altogether. i love a cold beer or a good glass of shiraz, but if someone said to me i have giving up alcohol forever to be a doctor, i'd do it in a heartbeat.

    good luck to you.
     
  6. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon

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    Probably good advice. I think it is very important for you to sit down with some people VERY early (i.e. M1) and talk about the future. By "people" I mean the Dean and +/- some residency directors. All alcoholics I know are triggered by stress. Med school is stress. Residency is even worse.

    You need to figure out not only issues of licensure but also try to guage how residency programs are going to view this situation (if they are even to be aware of it). I certainly have no answers, just trying to give you an idea of questions to ask. Licensure might be a foregone conclusion if you find out that residencies are going to shy away from you.

    Of course, if the records are not accesible it's not going to matter provided you stay clean.

    Best of luck.
     
  7. Impressions

    Impressions Banned
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    Not the OP.

    I got a DUI at the end of third year. Had a good lawyer, and did a 'program' for young professionals with one offense where I fulfilled some duties and plead guilty, but had the records expunged.

    it wasn't an acquittal, but the records were literally destroyed. Yet, my lawyer told me, that in a field as honorable as medicine, I should never lie. The question asked on my licensing paperwork asked "Have you ever been arrested?" I answered yes and explained that the case was expunged. Has never been a problem.

    you may have a problem. i doubt it will hamper you if you seek/get help and do your best to stay sober. even one DUI raises a flag in my book about a drinking problem (even in my own case). went to classes, did my service, talked to a health professoinal, and now I'm doing fine.

    good luck
     
  8. Impressions

    Impressions Banned
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    at this point I think I'll try to get an FBI report and see what is on there. The alcohol abuse treatment question is a little bit more loaded though... how can they ask for this and actually verify what's true or not?!?
     
  9. fang

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    You're asking an excellent question. I have some experience with alcoholism (friends and family), and as you know it's not as simple as just deciding to quit.

    I would seriously consider delaying medical school for a few years until you tackle this problem.

    If you start now, you have a much greater chance given your history to get into more trouble. Tackling med school and alcoholism at the same time might be setting yourself up to fail at both.

    Additionally, there is a background check and multiple questions about drug and alcohol abuse, cheating, etc on licensure forms. I'm not sure what they will excuse and what they wont, but it's likely that the the board of medical examiners would be notified. You don't want to graduate and be 200 k in debt just to find out you can't get a license, and in 4 years you might personally decide that you don't want to be at the mercy of the board for the rest of your career.

    I don't want to be overly pessimistic and dissuade you from medicine if that's really what you want to do; I'm only urging you to take the drinking problem seriously (as it seems you are), and it's probably going to take more than 4 months to get real help.
     
  10. medicineman1

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    The original poster is logged on as impressions and talks about multiple arrests, who is entering med school. A responder says that he/she is a 3rd year and got a dui? Same poster? WTF?
     
  11. FormerOB

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    fyi,

    if your records are expunged, you can legally say "i have never been arrested" if ever asked... that is the point of having your records expunged. hope you didn't pay too much for that lawyer dude
     
  12. medicineman1

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    just because it is expunged does NOT mean that you do not have to list it. In the state of California where my best friend/classmate and I went to med school and where he had these two misdemeanor arrests- yes its dismissed and not guilt plea was entered- still have to list it. It is CA state law. It doesnt go away EVER. In addition- if you were ever EVEN arrested, in which case you are automatically fingerprinted, these prints go directly to the FBI- and this NEVER comes off the record.

    Many west coast states are doing fingerprinting as part of licensure process including Idaho, California, Nevada, and so on. In the future- every state will have this.

    So this is the reality- I know, I've had hours of painful conversations with my friend who has been denied licensure.

    Like I stated before- only profession in the world where you are held to this kind of invasive standard. If you piss on the wrong tree the licensing board wants to know about it! Its wrong in my opinion- particularly in a case where an arrest is made and its immediately dismissed- you are stuck for life in these states that do fingerprinting, having to explain even if the case never comes close to a court room.

    welcome to medicine.
     
  13. razorback58

    razorback58 Resident

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    I agree with you. Have done a ton of research and you are right. If you don't believe what Medicineman1 is saying, you are only fooling yourself. My research come from trying to help a friend through the same thing.

    I agree on the other post too. How can you be starting medical school in one post and have a DUI in your 3rd year? By the way, DUI's don't usually go away for at least 7 years and sometimes never in some states.
     
  14. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member

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    Interesting thread, I think all the state licenses boards are different about this sort of thing - some stricter and some more lenients - sounds like Cali is on the more strict end.

    You are playing with fire if you answer 'no' to that question. Expunging the record does not mean you have never been arrested. Can't really erase that one. Btw ... The "Impressions" account is a 'general' account, for use anonymously. There seems to be one "Impressions" that is an undergrad and one "Impressions" that is or was a med student. I think the post even says something like "I'm not the original poster".

    -S
     
  15. Methyldopa

    Methyldopa Pharmacopoeia

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    Good pick up!!
     
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  17. McDoctor

    McDoctor Over One Billion Cured

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    Listen, you need to make a smart decision here and enter into some sort of voluntary recovery program. Go to the International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous website (www.idaa.org) and find a contact close to where you are going to school. Then find out what options are out there in your respective state. I'm not saying you have to be a gung-ho 12 stepper, but you do need to find a doctor with a similar problem who has successfully navigated the licensing process, and this is where you will find them.

    Many states will have a monitored recovery program through the state medical society that are not affiliated with the licensing board in any way. You might want to find out what is available in your state and enter one of these programs. Your prior arrests will be a problem when you apply for a license, and state licensing boards are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to substance abuse issues. You need to show them proof that you have been sober, and lack of arrests in the last 4 years is not going to be proof enough.

    My advice is to strongly consider entering a structured substance abuse program in your state, which would include random urine screens and hard documentation of sustained sobriety from a credible source, so that you have some ammunition to fight for your license when the time comes. In Pennsylvania, there is a service like this through the Pennsylvania Medical Society (the Physicians Health Program) that is not affiliated with the state board of medicine. It exists to assist physicians in staying sober and to advocate for the physician in licensing issues related to substance abuse problems. You should find the equivalent program in your state and talk to physicians who have gone through the program. The IDAA website should help you get this info.

    Good Luck. And you definitely can still be a good, well respected physician as a recovered alcoholic.
     
  18. Hard24Get

    Hard24Get The black sleepymed

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    Because the OP is a TROLL!!!! Anything is possible in the land of make-believe.... :rolleyes:
     
  19. DoctorBobSmith

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    Note: I'm the OP
    Since Impressions is a public account I have decided to make this one, so i can post without confusing others. Also please direct your PM's to this account. Thanks.
     
  20. DoctorBobSmith

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    So... pretty much my arrest record makes me an Alcoholic in their eyes no matter what? Well, I'd rather be a physician than continue drinking. Thanks for giving me the info on what I need to do. I'll probably wait until after orientation to get this whole process going, though. It seems like something like this would make the school think twice.
     
  21. McDoctor

    McDoctor Over One Billion Cured

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    I obviously can't speak for any licensing boards, nor have I ever been arrested, so don't take my post as gospel. Also, a monitoring program like the one I mentioned is a significant commitment, so get as much info as you can before making a decision.

    Looking at things objectively, studies show that physicians with substance abuse disorders have better outcomes when they participate in voluntary monitoring and recovery programs. Your odds of staying sober are better in one of these programs, this is why I would recommend participating in one. But these programs do entail a large commitment on your part, in that they often require one to submit to random urine testing, perhaps some individual counseling, perhaps some group counseling, etc. You need to talk to people who have been through it to get specifics.

    Find some doctors in recovery near your school and start some dialogue with them. I would do this now. Medical School is stressful and still prone to generating a booze-soaked environment, similar to college, at times. Many of your classmates will want to party hard the first week. You might need some help staying sober.

    You have plenty of time to decide if one of these voluntary programs is right for you. But you need people around you who can help you stay sober regardless. If you get arrested due to your alcohol problem in your medical career, you will be coerced into one of these programs anyway.

    You also need a credible source of information beyond what people can offer on these forums, myself included. There are doctors in recovery all over the place, they make a point to avail themselves to other professionals with similar problems, and they are probably in the best position to give you advice about your situation.
     
  22. FormerOB

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    If You Have Had Your Records Expunged.. You San Legally Say That You Have No Arrest Or Criminal Record. Is That Not Clear?

    Why Else Would Your Attorney (at Your Request) Petition The D.a?

    Wake Up Folks!!!
     
  23. aProgDirector

    aProgDirector Pastafarians Unite!
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    This is not exactly true. Most Bar associations require a background check to take the bar exam to practice law. Many states are initiating background checks for all certification/licensure -- that would include everything from PT's to accupunturists to athletic trainers to denists and vets. Many large corporations are performing background checks on all employees.

    Of course, in a field like medicine where a state board can refuse to grant you a license, and then when applying to other states you need to disclose that fact, I agree the potential for abuse is high. Also, state medical boards rarely tell you what they are looking for -- they simply ask for the information and you have no idea if you'll trip an alarm.
     
  24. medicineman1

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    Is it not clear, that if the licensing application asks "have you ever been arrested or charged?" and you say no ( based on your theory of expungement)- which I'm presuming that you are advising? What happens when the licensee applicant has to submit fingerprint cards and the arrest shows up?
     
  25. razorback58

    razorback58 Resident

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    Get your FBI fingerprint check and get a report for yourself. Like I have said in another post, many times the case is dropped or the person was found not-guilty and it can still show up as an open case on the FBI report. In that case, you have to get documentation to prove the case was dropped or found not-guilty. I know a person this has happened to - it was charged as misdeamnor and ended up being an ordinance violation. One of the charges were dropped but they both showed up as unresolved misdeamnors.

    By getting your report you can be proactive and not reactive to true or untrue information that might be found. With ID theft, anything can happen as well - it has been known to happen.

    http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm

    Link to get form for FBI check.


    Some boards even want to know about this. What happened to innocent until proven guility? False charges being dropped? Look at the kids from Duke this week - they now have an FBI record even though it was dropped.
     
  26. McDoctor

    McDoctor Over One Billion Cured

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    Maybe I'm missing something. The OP states he has multiple arrests and convictions. I don't think there's any question about this. IMO, the OP needs to start dialogue with a physician in recovery who has navigated the licensing process and perhaps consult with a lawyer familiar with licensing issues. This should be done now, before several years of tuition are spent.

    This is not a simple situation where someone has a public intoxication in public and is unsure of whether or not this will affect his career. The OP admits to having a substance abuse problem, and has a pattern of arrests to go along with it. IMO, he is very likely to have problems obtaining a license with his record, and needs to be proactive in taking steps to fight for his license starting now.

    Perhaps there is value in doing an FBI search, but clearly, in this scenario, the OP needs to go above and beyond that and pretty much assume he will have reg flags on his licensure application.


    P.S. I realize the OP could be female, it's too distracting and wordy to make every post gender neutral.
     
  27. Tired Pigeon

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    OP, how did you handle all this when applying to med school? I assume there were questions, which you must have handled well in order to get accepted. Would the same approach be useful for residency? Also, when the time comes, consider talking to the dean's office and asking their advice on how to handle it. I am sure this is not the first time something like this has come up, and they may be able to give you some good advice.
     
  28. DoctorBobSmith

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    Only about half the schools ask for things past felonies. I obviously did not apply to any schools which asked for misdemeanors. My undergrad record was spotty, but I finished very strong and I killed the MCAT. And I left everything else under the carpet. I might not have problems getting a residency, but for licensing I would be dead in the water with the substance abuse. They are all small low level misdemeanors, and I served no jail time, but it's obviously a pattern. :oops: I'm going to document my treatment and talk to the MANY other physicians who have had similar problems. I don't think I'll have a problem if I have proof of sobriety before I stand before the licensing boards.

    Oh, and I think razorback58 is answering to the "other" Impressions poster.
     
  29. DoctorBobSmith

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    If I do what is expected of me I think I'll be able to end up with a license... I don't think these charges would bar me permanently?
     
  30. McDoctor

    McDoctor Over One Billion Cured

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    I'm not sure. I'm just saying that your not likely to get alot of credible answers to these questions here on SDN. Your situation is much different from the usual scenario of somebody who made one mistake and has a single misdemeanor on his/her record. You have multiple alcohol related offenses. This is likely to cause some problems for you down the road when applying for licensure. You probably will be asked to present some evidence showing that you are not a risk to patients in the state where you practice. You probably will need to demonstrate that you do not have an active substance abuse problem given the nature of your criminal record.

    You should find out what you can do now, so that in the event that you do have problems when you apply for licensure, you have some credible documentation that proves prolonged period of sobriety. For instance, if you entered a voluntary recovery program with one of the state medical societies, they will advocate for you during the licensing process. As I said earlier, this is a serious commitment, so you need to talk to someone familiar with these issues. I'd suggest looking into the IDAA for guidance. The organization is anonymous, and you are likely to find someone there, a physician, willing to help.

    You have nothing to lose talking to someone at IDAA. I'd certainly look there before I confided in the dean of your school or prospective program directors, as others have suggested.

    Take my advice about entering a monitored recovery program (one not affiliated with the licensure board) with a grain of salt. I'm a third year family medicine resident. I'm not well versed in all these issues. I'm just pointing out the benefits to this are 1.) evidence in the medical literature that shows better outcomes and 2.) potentially making the licensure process smoother. (number 2 might vary state to state).
     
  31. Tired Pigeon

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    Maybe even consider consulting with a lawyer who specializes in licensing issues?
     
  32. McDoctor

    McDoctor Over One Billion Cured

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    I didn't see this post when I wrote my previous response. Sounds like you're on the right track. Best of luck to you.
     
  33. raptor5

    raptor5 Fooled by Randomness

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  34. DoctorBobSmith

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    AMCAS only asks for felonies... I don't know about AACOMAS since I didn't go that route
     
  35. funkless

    funkless Apatheist, Anestheologist

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    Bonaduce, is that you???
     
  36. FormerOB

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    While I am not blessed with medicine man's legal acumen, he is missing the point on this one (though I realize that he/she probably received his JD already), god help us if he has his M.D. already and treats his patients the same way he does others in this forum.

    While a case/charges against someone can be dropped, yes, you would still have to admit to being arrested. But, if you have your arrest record expunged, by law, your fingerprints/arrest records have to be destroyed. In fact, I will go medicine man's route and submit meaningless anecdotal evidence... I have known people who have had arrest records expunged and have been able to get California medical licensure.

    Bottom line, get good advice from a attorney... not a know-it-all from this forum.
     
  37. wook

    wook Just a hairy situation
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    This is incorrect and if discovered after getting a medical license would cause your medical license to be revoked. I agree with consulting a medical attorney as they would have the most accurate information.


    Wook
     
  38. dpmd

    dpmd Relaxing
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    In California, the application for licensure specifically states that you must disclose all convictions even if the have been "deferred, set aside, dismissed, expunged, or issued a stay of execution." This doesn't mean you won't get a license. It just means you need to be honest about your record and let them make the decision. I am sure other states spell things out for you in the application. You can check the application for your state and see for yourself. If it isn't explicit, then I would agree with hiring an attorney that specializes in medical licensing issues for your state in order to get the most accurate info.
     
  39. Tired

    Tired Fading away

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    I wonder how often "stay of execution" has been listed on the application? :D
     
  40. dpmd

    dpmd Relaxing
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    I was hoping it meant something different from what I thought.
     
  41. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
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  42. Snoopy

    Snoopy Senior Member

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    Another issue that has not been brought up is how you will fare when applying for hospital privileges and malpractice insurance. The insurance companies (from my experience which was not related to substance abuse) were far more in-depth in their investigation of one's background. This is just one more thing to consider and possibly investigate early on. It sounds like the OP has been very honest throughout this process, but I would remind everyone never to lie on any of your license/privilege/insurance applications. If you do, your license can be revoked and your insurance can be dropped. This would be catastrophic if you were in the middle of a lawsuit.
     
  43. wook

    wook Just a hairy situation
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    :thumbup:
     

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